Steal a Bike from this Guy?

Solis demonstrating a flying side kick while traveling in Hawaii. Photo: Albert Li
Solis demonstrating a flying side kick while traveling in Hawaii. A thief might want to think twice before trying to steal this guy’s ride. Photo: Albert Li

San Francisco native Ramon Solis was working out with his class at Quantum Martial Arts on 20th Street and Mission on Wednesday night when he heard a loud grinding sound coming from the street. “I am deaf in one ear but I still heard an angle grinder. It was 7 pm so it was too late to be a public works project,” he recounted. He ran to the window and saw a guy hunched over his expensive racing bike, which was locked to a rack outside. Sparks were flying.

It was just last week that a video made the rounds of a brazen thief who walked right up to a bike on Valencia, took out an angle grinder, and cut off the lock–with sparks flying–while onlookers did nothing. It was enough to make any cyclist sob. We get hit, cars and trucks continually park on the bike lanes, and to add insult to injury, apparently our bikes can get stolen with impunity. In fact, it’s not even the first time for Solis. A few years ago, he walked out of a building on Market Street just in time to see a thief pedaling away on his bike. The incident was captured on video and became part of a television news story. That bike wasn’t recovered.

Solis in his karate class. “Picture this board stealing your bike!” Photo: Solis.

Solis wasn’t having it a second time. “I just bolted out,” he said. “My class mates and teacher started yelling from the third-floor window to stop the man.” He posted about the incident on his Facebook page:

I yelled “Shit, someone’s stealing my bike!” And I ran down three flights of stairs to catch the guy. During this time, my martial arts teacher and classmates were yelling and hollering from the third floor windows telling people to stop him. By the time I had my hands on him, he already toppled over himself while attempting to flee. This was thanks in part to an anonymous stranger who stepped in front of the thief’s path.

Obviously, my bike lock was cut in half by this time.

I executed a reverse headlock on him, and the harder I gripped, the less he resisted. I have literally been in this position hundreds of times before, and with one wrong move I could have broken his neck. I never threw any punches, but by the time I got him to sit down with the crucial aid of my three other martial arts classmates Drew, Brad, and Adrien, we surrounded him. We got him to sit down, and I had my fist chambered towards his face the whole time.

Fortunately, the suspect didn’t resist (although he tried to flee at one point). One of his classmates flagged down a police car and the would-be thief was arrested. “I talked with the police,” said Solis. “He said they would be charging him for attempted grand theft.”

The perp/suspect is in the back of the SFPD car. Photo: Solis.
The perp/suspect is in the back of this SFPD car. Photo: Solis.

Solis hasn’t heard back from law enforcement yet, but it’s a safe bet, given all the witnesses, that this bike thief will be seeing justice.

Meanwhile, Solis has concluded that it’s just not safe to leave a bike locked up outside in San Francisco. “There’s a sign outside the building and there’s a sticker on my bike that says ‘Quantum Martial Arts‘” he said. “I’d assume someone would make the connection that I’m right there, in the building, making karate sounds from our open window… that should at least be a warning sign not to steal the bike.” Apparently not.

Actually, it’s an indication that businesses have to be more accommodating to cyclists. Let us walk our bike in with us to the grocery store, for example. Or give us indoor, secure parking. But just throwing a bike rack on the sidewalk isn’t going to keep our prized steeds safe. Solis agreed and said bike thieves are just too bold and determined. “I won’t be parking my bike outside anymore,” he concluded.

Well, that's one solution to bike thievery. Photo ??TK
Solis at his day job as a consultant. Well, that’s one way to keep a bike from getting stolen. Photo: John Kohli

Have you had a bike stolen? Do you suspect stolen bikes are being sold at a flea market or elsewhere? Let us know your experiences. And note that SFPD has a Twitter feed set up for reporting stolen bikes and “chop shops” @SFPDBikeTheft. You can also call them at (415) 553-0123.

  • Davy Jones

    Was the thief the same guy who used the angle grinder on the bike lock on Valencia last week??

  • Greg Costikyan

    I know bike theft is a big problem in SF, but in 2 1/2 years there I never lost a bike. I’ve had 5 stolen in NYC, however. (Of course, my SF employer did provide indoor bike storage, which is useful for peace of mind).

  • davistrain

    I realize that our so-called justice system frowns on such things, but it would be wonderful if a bike thief were caught, pounded into a bloody pulp and tossed into the nearest trash bin. In my fields of interest, non-ferrous metal thieves are held in a similar level of contempt. Sometimes they try to steal wires that are still energized, and the bastards find out that Ohm’s law is more rigidly enforced than the state Penal Code.

  • 1LelaG

    Why blame the State Penal Code and not the indifferent onlookers? They are just as bad as the thief, who depends on public indifference to do his job without intrusion……

  • RinSF

    Because the consequences for interfering can be more severe for an onlooker than for the victim of the theft or even the perpetrator.

    I’ve put myself in harm’s way when someone’s physical safety was threatened, but it’s never the smart thing to do.

  • hiker_sf

    Right. I’m going to put myself in harm’s way to defend your property.

    If we were in Europe, where this type of crime is rarely violent, I’d happy jump in.

    In San Francisco, I never will if it means that I may be in danger.

  • anbudmor

    Really, you want me to jump in and tackle a guy who has a working angle grinder.
    And then you could write the comment saying what a one-armed idiot I was for giving up a limb for someone else’s bike.
    And to suggest a witness is as bad as a perp … well that’s just nonsense.

  • RinSF

    Depends on where you are in Europe. I’d be reluctant to stop a bike thief in Glasgow with three of his mates and a van standing by…

  • PaleoBruce

    You don’t need to confront the robber, just call 911 from a safe distance down the street and tell them “robbery in progress”.

  • Affen_Theater

    Thief, not robber. Theft, not robbery.

  • Mark Gunther

    Why are you commuting on a bike like that? Buy a beat up commuter bike and stop worrying.

  • Dan

    Because he likes the bike. We shouldn’t need a shitty beater bikes.

  • Dan

    a guy with a spinning bldae is a guy with a spinning blade…

  • Nicholas Littlejohn

    Always recycle.

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